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Thu, Jan 20, 2011

Portland, ME City Council Considers 'Big John' Aircraft Carrier Project

Non-Profit Group Hopes To Have Decommissioned Carrier As A Museum In Maine

The USS JFK Museum presented a detailed business plan to the Portland City Council Wednesday night in hopes of gaining their support in the effort to bring the decommissioned aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) to Casco Bay. The Navy requires organizations seeking to acquire the ship in their donation program to have the support of its host city as part of the "Phase II" submission. The Portland City Council must vote in favor of the project or Portland will be disqualified for consideration, leaving Newport, RI as another potential host city and the possibility of the ship being scrapped as the only other alternatives. Being the last non-nuclear powered aircraft carrier in the fleet, the USS JFK is also in all probability, the last U.S. Navy aircraft carrier to ever go on public display as a museum.

USS John F Kennedy

Steve Woods, who leads the USS JFK Museum organization as CEO/Executive Director, will be presenting a detailed budget and business plan outlining the benefits and economic opportunity the project holds along with the commitment that the acquisition process and future operation of the USS JFK Museum will come at no expense to the city or its taxpayers. In fact, the plan being presented will include significant direct revenue projections to the City of Portland along with the expected annual positive economic impact to Portland and the region in the tens-of-million-of-dollars.

"Early feedback concerning the USS JFK Museum only focused on the size of the ship while ignoring the enormity of the opportunity. I believe that the USS JFK Museum has the potential to serve as the greatest single catalyst for local & regional growth ever experienced here in Maine," said Woods. "Our presentation to the Portland City Council on Wednesday evening will demonstrate a forward looking vision along with the practical details needed to evaluate a project of this magnitude. All I'm asking from the Mayor, the City Councilors and the public is to keep an open mind in regard to this proposal as we hope to enter the Navy's Phase III period for securing the ship (next 7-months) – at which point, there will be ample time to sink this process if that becomes the collective will. But, to do so now preemptively serves no purpose," concluded Woods.

Kennedy Flight Deck

Naval aviator (and famous attorney), F. Lee Bailey, is expected to attend to the Portland City Council meeting to speak in favor of the project as a current  Maine (and longtime – coming to Maine first in 1933) resident and former member of the military as a jet fighter pilot. Bailey has also experienced a carrier landing/launch on the USS JFK a few years ago during an official visit to the ship at the invitation of the US Navy.

(Editor's Note) I had the privilege of standing on the flight deck of "Big John" during flight operations shortly before one of her final deployments from Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, FL, as well as launching from her deck aboard a COD flight to return back to shore (admittedly, in the back, strapped in facing aft with the rest of the journalists). I watched the professionals in Pri-Fly direct the ballet on the flight deck, and got to know some of the men and women who served aboard her with distinction.  What ever her final destination, we wish her well.

FMI: www.ussjfk.org


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